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 Why Provide Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities?

By Barbara Corley / Henry County Bicycle Association Inc.

Bicycling and walking are healthy and non polluting forms of transportation and must be included in transportation planning. If we, the public, don't ask for improvements such as sidewalks, bikeable shoulders, wide curb lanes and multi use paths we won't have them. This is why you must get involved in the process of creating a more livable community. This is your future, your children's future.

With air quality impact a major factor, local jurisdictions are encouraged to implement efficient, modally balanced and environmentally sensitive transportation plans, This includes Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities. Thirteen Atlanta area counties have an air pollution problem. Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Cherokee, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale are listed as "Serious" non attainment areas because of ground level ozone. The automobile alone accounts for 60% of the Region's hydrocarbon emissions. In the summer months, when temperatures are higher, ground level ozone is formed readily. This is the time of year when more people are outside walking and riding bicycles.

Federal Legislation such as the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990 (CAAA) mandates that the transportation planning in the Atlanta Region focus on integrating efforts to improve air quality. Since the automobile is a major sourse of air pollution, transportation planners are having to make major adjustments in transportation planning and design by developing an efficient transportation system. The CAAA requires the region to achieve healthy air standards by 1999.

Nationwide, 72 percent of all Americans want a community-based planning structure which makes walking and bicycling an integral part of their area's transportation system. Bicycling and walking are healthy and non polluting. The Atlanta Regional Commission takes this into account with the Vision 2020 project. Vision 2020 is a citizen-based planning effort towards more livable communities. It is important Local jurisdictions include Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities in the Transportation Planning. It is also important the public understand the process of Transportation Planning. Here's how it's done.

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) in it's role as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) provides a comprehensive transportation planning process. Henry County and 9 other Atlanta area counties make up the ARC. Transportation Planning in the Atlanta Region is basically put into two categories. The Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Every transportation project that will be built in the Atlanta Region through the year 2010 is included in the RTP. RTP is undergoing a major update in order for transportation planning to comply with factors considered in the initiatives from Vision 2020 and the region's air quality. Transportation planning updates start in 1996 and go through 1997.

TIP is a short range multi year plan, currently covering the years 1997-1999. The highest priority transportation improvements from RTP and those that have funding reserved go into TIP. TIP projects are aimed at maintaining mobility for the Regions people and goods in an efficient, modally balanced and environmentally sensitive manner. Air quality impact is a major factor. The ARC's 1996 TIP Update is to be completed June 1996.

A State Implementation Plan (SIP), which was revised in 1994 because of the Region's air quality, works closely with federal, state and local jurisdiction to program transportation projects which enhance air quality. Public involvement is important in the success of planning for and implementing bicycling and pedestrian facilities.

The Inter modal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1990 (ISTEA) places greater emphasis on integrating transportation and land use planning, financial planning and public involvement than ever before. In the past the public's input was limited and generally only encouraged near the end of the project. Under ISTEA the ARC has developed an aggressive public involvement process involving people throughout the RTP update, not just at the end.

The ARC has several planning strategies and policies aimed at improving the Region's air quality and making our communities more livable. All include the importance of Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities. Transportation Enhancement under ISTEA will fund Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities with a 20% local match. Motor fuel gas taxes will allow for funding of such improvements as bikeable shoulders and sidewalks with appropriate local funding.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is in the process of a statewide planning effort for the Statewide Bicycle Routes. The program will designate and improve approximately 2800 miles of roadway as a network of Bicycle Routes. The Central Route includes Henry County, taking in a small portion of Hampton. It is necessary for local bicycle networks to provide connectivity to these state bicycle routes. Public involvement is important in order for this plan to succeed.

To repeat what was said at the beginning bicycling and walking are healthy and non pollutingforms of transportation and must be included in transportation planning. If we, the public, don't ask for improvements such as sidewalks, bikeable shoulders, wide curb lanes and multi use paths we won't have them. This is why you must get involved in the process of creating a more livable community. This is your future, your children's future.

For more information on how to get involved in local Government Planning contact Calvin McShan, Henry County Community Development, Suite C, 100 Windy Hill Road, McDonough, GA. 30253. 770-954-2457; fax 770-954-2314. For information on how to get involved in the local BUG ( bicycle users group/which includes pedestrian facilities ) contact Barbara Corley, Henry County Bicycle Association, PO Box 2515, Stockbridge, GA 30281. 770-914-1237, or Email me at (bycorley@randomc.com)


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